UAS Sitka Campus was awarded a Title III grant in 2010. This 5-year grant included a goal to develop a collaborative, faculty-driven peer review process.
We began by forming a Peer Review Committee populated by faculty and instructional design staff. The committee reviewed national peer review instruments including Quality Matters and developed our own instrument based on national standards. This first draft of the rubric was shared with faculty at iTeach.
Modifications and edits were made from the positive feedback received. In addition to developing a rubric, the committee also developed a process for the continuous improvement of online courses.
The UAS Peer Review Rubric was extensively tested by the committee. We practiced using the rubric by performing mini-reviews on two “test” courses. Modifications were made after each review.
The committee then used the rubric to complete a formal review of Susan Mircovich’s (KPC College) Chemistry 103 course. Ms. Mircovich was getting her course ready for a Blackboard Catalyst Award submission and was glad to have the opportunity to get feedback prior to her submission.
The process and the rubric was presented to UAS faculty at a campus meeting in August 2012.
As part of our "process" charge, the committee determined that all Peer Review Reviewers needed training. So, prior to our first formal review, faculty at all three UAS campuses were offered the opportunity to take a Quality Matters course called "Applying the QM Rubric." This course trained our faculty how to examine a course using a rubric and provide substantive, positive feedback to a faculty member. The training process helped us establish a protocol for reviewing and providing feedback.
Our first Peer Reviewers included Maren Haavig in Juneau, Rose Goeden and Kathi Baldwin, both in Sitka. In the summer of 2013, Jon Martin's Biology 111 course was reviewed. The effort was successful, and Jon received a comprehensive report on his course. Along with the recommendations came the commitment to help him make any changes that he deemed most appropriate for his course.
As we enter our 4th year, the committee has changed its name. We are now the Peer Review for Course Improvement committee, which consists of Juneau, Sitka and Ketchikan faculty.
In addition, we presented to TLTR, the TLTRs' Quality Matters focus group, and at Convocation about the peer review process and rubric. We continue to update TLTR each month on our committee’s work.
Faculty, instructional designers and pedagogical curriculum specialists make up the Peer Review for Course Improvement Committee. This year, the committee consists of the following members:
- Kathi Baldwin, Chair
- Eve Dillingham
- Rose Goeden
- Maren Haavig
- Maureen O'Halloran
- Jon Martin
- Mary Purvis
- Ann Spehar
- Adrainne Thomas
Peer review is a widely accepted approach to ensure the quality of online courses. The benefits to peer review include the following:
- Standardizes an approach towards evaluating online courses
- Recognizes and highlights what UAS faculty consider as online best practices
- Provides tools that can be used to self-assess online courses
- Provides focused and meaningful feedback on courses
- Provides reviewers with different perspectives and strategies for designing and implementing online courses
- Improves the practice of developing and teaching an online course
- Completing the peer review process is excellent professional development.
You will receive positive and constructive criticism from your peer review. The process is never prescriptive. It is designed to be suggestive. Reviewers will suggest areas where your course can be improved. They may provide examples, but you will never be told that you must "fix" or "change" your course to comply with their suggestion.
The process is to provide you with ideas to improve the effectiveness of your course.
The UAS Peer Review Rubric and Checklist can be used by faculty as they develop their online course, as they modify an existing course, or as they evaluate their course and want to see how their course design meets or exceeds national best practices.
We encourage faculty to use these documents alone, working with another faculty member or sitting with one of the university’s instructional designers as they review their courses. These instruments are designed to make you think intentionally about the elements that you place into your course. They are designed to improve the craft of teaching online.